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Couple conned out of £44,000 by cowboy builder say he ruined their lives and cheated them out of final days with dying father – as they say five year jail sentence is not enough


A couple who were conned by a cowboy builder said he cheated them out of the final days with their dying loved one and had a row with them on the day of the funeral. 

Mark and Chrissie Bacon had dreams of converting their garage so Mr Bacon’s dying father Richard could spend his final days with them and his grandchildren.

But Mr and Mrs Bacon, 61 and 53, said they never got the ‘opportunity to give him that end we hoped to give him’ because Lawrence Martin conned them out of £44,000 in what was a ‘nightmare of stress’.

There was even a stand-off on the day of Richard’s funeral, which saw Martin ‘shouting and screaming’ at Chrissie.

The cowboy builder was jailed on Wednesday for five years for scamming more than 50 homeowners in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Sussex out of nearly £650,000.

In one of the worst cases of its kind Martin, 36, was branded a ‘thorough menace’ by a judge for the way he ‘took advantage’ of vulnerable customers including the Bacons.

Today, the couple, from Chichester, West Sussex, have revealed to MailOnline the full extent of their trauma and said that Martin will be out of jail long before they have recovered from their ordeal.

Were you scammed by Lawrence Martin? Email: gina.kalsi@mailonline.co.uk

Mark and Chrissie Bacon had dreams of converting their garage so Mr Bacon's dying father Richard could spend his final days with them and his grandchildren

Mark and Chrissie Bacon had dreams of converting their garage so Mr Bacon’s dying father Richard could spend his final days with them and his grandchildren

Richard Bacon died waiting for the garage conversion to be complete

Richard Bacon died waiting for the garage conversion to be complete 

Lawrence Martin (pictured) 'took advantage' of vulnerable customers including one woman who was having work done to help her dying father-in-law, a court heard

Lawrence Martin (pictured) ‘took advantage’ of vulnerable customers including one woman who was having work done to help her dying father-in-law, a court heard

The devastated couple told how Mark was estranged from his father but they rekindled their relationship.

Richard Bacon was living by himself in a retirement flat and eventually died age 83 in January 2022 from an asbestos-related illness without ever moving into the planned annex.

Chrissie said: ‘Mark was estranged from his father for over 20 years and had only just started talking to him about five years before.

‘We felt that if he was going it was even more important to build that relationship between him and the children.

‘It was a big step for Mark to let him back into his life and for the children, we saw how excited they were to have two grandads.

‘Lawrence knew all this which is why we took it so hard, really.

‘Mark had just started relaxing with his dad, starting to talk to him and build that relationship back up – we didn’t get the opportunity to give him that end we hoped to give him.

‘No amount of time in prison or amount of money can ever give that back – not for us and not for the children.’

Mark added: ‘He wasn’t the cheapest, but he said he could get my dad in in time for Christmas, but it never happened.’ 

Martin’s work was so bad Mr and Mrs Bacon were left with 4ft deep ‘trenches’ which they humiliatingly had to hurdle over every time they wanted to go to the toilet from their living room.

The couple were then left horrified when they discovered Martin filled them with soil instead of cement.

The heartbroken family said that it will take them longer to recover from the emotional and physical damage than the length of Martin’s sentence. 

‘We had to take out an additional loan to make the house liveable for the children to return home,’ Chrissie said. 

‘We are paying that at about £350 per month for 5 years along with the additional mortgage payments. We also still owe my father £10,000 from the £20,000 that he lent us.

Damage and poor work at customer Chrissie Bacon's home that Lawrence Martin worked on

Damage and poor work at customer Chrissie Bacon’s home that Lawrence Martin worked on

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work

Today, the couple, from Chichester, West Sussex, have revealed to MailOnline the full extent of their trauma and said that Martin will be out of jail long before they have recovered from their ordeal

Today, the couple, from Chichester, West Sussex, have revealed to MailOnline the full extent of their trauma and said that Martin will be out of jail long before they have recovered from their ordeal

Cracks and holes in the walls of Chrissie Bacon's property, one of Martin's clients

Cracks and holes in the walls of Chrissie Bacon’s property, one of Martin’s clients 

‘On top of that is the £30,000 of works that still need to be completed. We will need to pay off some of the former loans to be able to borrow any more sums.

‘Basically, he gets a 5 year prison sentence and we estimate 7-10 years for us to correct his mistakes on our house.’

After admitting two counts of fraudulent trading and one of fraud Martin did not react as he was jailed for five years for his ‘disgraceful conduct’ at Southampton Crown Court.

Martin will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence.

He was also made subject of a 10-year Criminal Behaviour Order, barring him from any kind of building or roofing work. He will however be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release.

Chartered accountant Chrissie said Martin pressured them into hiring him, was ‘very quick and clever with his words’, and enforced bullying tactics as he would ‘walk all over you’.

At what was meant to be their ‘forever home’, the Bacons have forked out £46,000 on remedial costs so far.

But, their driveway is still ‘wrecked’, the front door is not fixed, the stairs aren’t finished, and there’s a hole in the lounge wall – work which is estimated to cost £30,000.

The Bacons, who have four adult daughters and an adult son, never received a £15,000 refund which Martin, 36, promised.

Another couple lost more than £110,000 as a result of his fraud, while dozens of heartbroken victims were left with wrecked homes and empty bank accounts as their life savings were cleaned out in a campaign of fraud that lasted a ‘very long time’. 

Meanwhile Martin was also targeting Sharon Netley and partner Paul Harris for a £92,000 job. His work was so bad they had to spend another £22,000 remedying his appalling efforts. 

‘It was August 2021, he came round and quoted – we got him from Bark.com which a lot of people seemed to have,’ Chrissie said. 

‘We got the same thing as everyone else, ‘you’ve got to make a decision now and pay a deposit now because I’m so busy, you’ll lose the slot’.

‘Of course, we had three other quotes and he wasn’t the cheapest but we were short of time because we needed to get it done because Grandpa was only given three to four months to live.

‘So we needed to get it done as quick as we could.

‘We went with Lawrence and gave him the deposit and that just began the whole nightmare story of stress and everything else.’

The Bacons said in October 2021 Martin arrived with two boys to start work and identified a ‘patch of damp’ in their bedroom next to the garage.

‘That’s what then started all the additional works,’ she said.

‘Since then, we found out that, yes, they did need to dig out the floor in that room and he did one quote for that at £3,500 which we accepted.’

However, Martin then claimed the damp had spread, that there was underpinning, rising damp and that all the floors in the house needed lifting.

The Bacons managed to stop him tearing up their original oak flooring in the living room and newly refurbished kitchen floor but he still tore up the hallway and two bedrooms.

This meant the couple, who were now confined to sleeping in the living room, had to hurdle ‘trenches’ in the floor to reach the toilet.

Martin and his group of young workers ground out their original steel-frame staircase, leaving it unsafe to use as it was suspended from the wall.

Richard Bacon was living by himself in a retirement flat and eventually died age 83 in January 2022 from an asbestos-related illness without ever moving into the planned annex

Richard Bacon was living by himself in a retirement flat and eventually died age 83 in January 2022 from an asbestos-related illness without ever moving into the planned annex

The Bacons said in October 2021 Martin arrived with two boys to start work and identified a 'patch of damp' in their bedroom next to the garage

The Bacons said in October 2021 Martin arrived with two boys to start work and identified a ‘patch of damp’ in their bedroom next to the garage

The Bacon's home with the window Lawrence Martin was working on (right)

The Bacon’s home with the window Lawrence Martin was working on (right)

Mark and Chrissie Bacon's driveway was ruined by Lawrence Martin

Mark and Chrissie Bacon’s driveway was ruined by Lawrence Martin

Chrissie and Mark Bacon, who spent £44,000 on a garage conversion to house her terminally ill father-in-law, have been left with incomplete work by Martin after hiring him in the summer of 2021. Pictured: Their home

Chrissie and Mark Bacon, who spent £44,000 on a garage conversion to house her terminally ill father-in-law, have been left with incomplete work by Martin after hiring him in the summer of 2021. Pictured: Their home

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work. Pictured: Their property

The Bacons spent their life savings on the work and even had to remortgage their home before forking out an extra £46,000 to repair the incomplete work. Pictured: Their property 

Chrissie said that an additional £30,000 still needs to be spent on her damaged property

Chrissie said that an additional £30,000 still needs to be spent on her damaged property 

As a result, their children moved out to Chrissie’s parents’ holiday flat around the corner – crammed into the three bedroom apartment.

At the time, one daughter was doing GCSEs and the other was doing A Levels. The pair claimed their children did worse in their exams as a result of the renovation hell they suffered.

‘It was just a complete nightmare,’ Mrs Bacon added.

‘Mark and I had use of the kitchen, the dining room and lounge and the downstairs toilet, but we had to climb over 4ft deep trenches to get to the toilet.’

During October half term, they took the girls to Mallorca but was bombarded by Martin – who was supposed to be filling in the holes.

‘That was just a constant thing with him, he was always asking for money. I refused to give him any more, then he said ‘it won’t be ready when you get back’ so of course I gave him money for a concrete lorry which never arrived.

‘We didn’t realise he’d back-filled some of the trenches with soil.’

One of the workers told Chrissie that Martin had messed up the filling and Daniel Terry, a Building Control officer, carried out a surprise visit on Martin’s work.

‘I was an emotional wreck by then,’ Mrs Bacon said.

Mr Terry ‘condemned’ Martin’s work and questioned why he had torn up the floor and filled it with soil.

‘Lawrence had obviously lied to us and conned us, but by then we knew,’ she said.

‘When we started to get a bit suspicious we started taking photos of everything.’

The court heard Martin – who had no official roofing qualifications but is trained as an electrician – shamelessly told one customer ‘you got more chance of winning the lottery’ than getting a refund. 

Mr Terry arranged inspections of the holes to see how they’d been filled in and Martin admitted he had filled them with soil.

Due to expense of getting someone new to come in and repair it all, it was decided they would try and ‘push’ Martin to finish the work himself and Mr Terry would monitor his progress weekly by November.

Martin stopped turning up to Building Control meetings with ‘delaying tactics’ – saying his mother was dying, father was ill, wife was in hospital and one of his babies was sick.

Mark was too ill to attend them with Chrissie.

She said: ‘He would shout at me and I couldn’t have Mark there with me. He would get really cross at me and shout at me.

‘He’s not very tall, but then I’m shorter than him – he was very intimidating. He swears and I hate swearing.’

On Martin’s attendance on site, he said: ‘At the beginning he came quite often, but then it was hardly ever. He had shiny brand new vans with 71 registration plate.’

During October half term, the couple took their daugthers to Mallorca but was bombarded by Martin - who was supposed to be filling in the holes

During October half term, the couple took their daugthers to Mallorca but was bombarded by Martin – who was supposed to be filling in the holes

They had to cancel Christmas in 2021, and Mark's father died a month later. The traumatised family also had to put their dog down around the same time

They had to cancel Christmas in 2021, and Mark’s father died a month later. The traumatised family also had to put their dog down around the same time

The Bacon's home with the window Lawrence Martin was working on (centre)

The Bacon’s home with the window Lawrence Martin was working on (centre)

The court heard Martin 'took advantage of the consumers' vulnerability' by stating that if they continued to complain he would walk off the job and refund them money. Pictured: Damage to Chrissie's property

The court heard Martin ‘took advantage of the consumers’ vulnerability’ by stating that if they continued to complain he would walk off the job and refund them money. Pictured: Damage to Chrissie’s property 

Cowboy builder Lawrence Martin's house located in Southampton, as told to the court

Cowboy builder Lawrence Martin’s house located in Southampton, as told to the court

Martin was jailed for five years for his 'disgraceful conduct' at Southampton Crown Court. Pictured: Chrissie Bacon's house

Martin was jailed for five years for his ‘disgraceful conduct’ at Southampton Crown Court. Pictured: Chrissie Bacon’s house 

Mark had a heart operation in December and was in bed recovering in the middle of the dust and noise.

Chrissie added: ‘We stopped seeing grandpa because we were so busy and stressed and he got really ill. It was awful.

‘Christmas was approaching and we couldn’t leave the house because the front of the house was completely open.’

They had to cancel Christmas in 2021, and Mark’s father died a month later. The traumatised family also had to put their dog down around the same time.

In February of 2022, there was a stand-off on the day of Richard’s funeral, which saw Martin ‘shouting and screaming’ at Chrissie.

‘I just thought, I can’t cope any more’, she said as she told how she cut ties with him.

‘He was just such a liar. I thought ‘I haven’t been that bad in a past life that I deserve this.’

The Bacons remortgaged their house, emptied savings, and borrowed £20k from Chrissie’s parents, but don’t want to take any more off them.

‘My dad has offered to lend us the rest of the money, but I can’t do that because I can’t pay it back,’ she said.

‘I can’t bring myself to borrow more until I can pay the rest back – it’s my dad I can’t keep taking all his money.’

She couldn’t afford to have all the rubbish removed so spent ‘months and months’ spent every weekend loading up her minibus herself and taking rubbish from their drive to the tip.

On finding out about others who had also suffered, she said: ‘In a way it makes you feel better that you’re not the only idiot.

‘Because that’s how you feel, but the police did say that’s what he’s really clever at, that’s his profession.

‘You can’t see through everything, he’s very clever at it, he’s spent years practising.

‘He was very quick and clever with his words, but whatever you say he’s got a comeback for. He’d walk all over you. But you do feel completely stupid.’

She added: ‘Each time he said something there is something behind it that makes you believe it. The other thing is I am an extremely honest person.

‘I am an extremely honest person and Mark and I detest lying or deceiving people – we think that’s like one of the worst things you can do.

‘To think someone would do it to you is outside of our daily parameters.

In February of 2022, there was a stand-off on the day of Richard's funeral, which saw Martin 'shouting and screaming' at Chrissie

In February of 2022, there was a stand-off on the day of Richard’s funeral, which saw Martin ‘shouting and screaming’ at Chrissie

Martin's clients included a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man

Martin’s clients included a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man

Martin will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence

Martin will serve half of his sentence before being released on licence

The court has ruled that Martin will be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release. Boarded up windows at Chrissie Bacon's home

The court has ruled that Martin will be allowed to practise as an electrician upon his release. Boarded up windows at Chrissie Bacon’s home

‘We’re too trusting, we believe what people tell us – definitely too naive. It’s shocking

‘The girls got lower A-Level and GCSE results than they should have and they can’t shake that. That was because of Lawrence.’

She continued: ‘The house wasn’t ready, the children couldn’t live here, we couldn’t spend the day together in the house – it was just horrendous.

‘We had to climb over trenches to get to the toilets.

‘We were so paranoid by then about Lawrence’s behaviour, that we tried not to leave the house because every time we left, something else got broken or something else suddenly didn’t work.

‘The boiler broke down, the toilets stopped working and leaked, the radiators started leaking – it was just ridiculous.

‘Now, it seems stupid, now, you think ‘it was obvious it was Lawrence but at the time we just weren’t convinced and we hadn’t realised.’

Martin’s vulnerable clients included a widow, those with disabilities, and the family of a terminally ill man. 

Chrissie said: ‘There’s so many ways he’s ruined lives. It happened to us, there’s nothing we can do about that.

‘I just don’t want him doing it to anyone else – the more we can get his name out there, the more people can come forward who have been affected by him and the more people will hear his name and remember, so he can’t do it again.

‘He’s gone down – I hope he’s enjoying looking at his ceiling tonight.’



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